Battle of the Somme

British tank at the Battle of the Somme, September 1916

British tank at the Battle of the Somme, September 1916

The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was fought July 1 to November 18, 1916, along a 25-mile front near the Somme River in France. It was the first great offensive of World War I and one of its bloodiest battles.

Background

As part of an Allied agreement to coordinate simultaneous offensives against the Germans, the British and French planned on a joint French-led offensive on the Somme River to take place during the summer of 1916. But the Germans attacked the French at Verdun in February, forcing the British to shoulder the bulk of the planned Somme Offensive.

First Day

The Somme Offensive began with artillery barrages on June 24 that lasted a week. However, the bombardment was largely ineffective, which meant that when the infantry climbed out of the trenches on July 1 and crossed into No Man’s Land, they were cut down by German machine guns and artillery. It was the single bloodiest day in British army history, with nearly 60,000 British casualties, a third of them killed.

While there was some success in breaking though the German front line along the southern part of the front on that first day of the battle, there was no real progress along the majority of the line.

Progress of Battle & Casualties

The Battle of the Somme would last for 4 ½ months, with more than a dozen notable engagements. One of these was the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (September 15-22), the first time tanks were used in battle. The Somme Offensive relied on methods of modern warfare, including aircraft, heavy artillery, machine guns, mortars, spray chemical weapons, and flamethrowers.

By the time the Battle of the Somme finally ended in November with inconclusive results, both sides had sustained high casualties, with more than a million total killed, wounded, captured, or missing.

Learn more about the Battle of the Somme through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.


Articles and Clippings about the Battle of the Somme

Canadian newspaper front page announcing the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916Canadian newspaper front page announcing the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916 Sat, Jul 1, 1916 – 1 · The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) · Newspapers.comArticles in a British newspaper covering the first days of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916Articles in a British newspaper covering the first days of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 Mon, Jul 3, 1916 – Page 8 · The Times (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comCorrespondent to the London Times describes the bombardment leading up to the Battle of the SommeCorrespondent to the London Times describes the bombardment leading up to the Battle of the Somme Mon, Jul 3, 1916 – Page 9 · The Times (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comMap of the Somme Battlefield showing Allied advances the first dayMap of the Somme Battlefield showing Allied advances the first day Mon, Jul 3, 1916 – Page 9 · The Times (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comNewspaper correspondent describes the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916Newspaper correspondent describes the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 Tue, Jul 4, 1916 – Page 9 · The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) · Newspapers.comAugust 1916 article about Australians during the Battle of the SommeAugust 1916 article about Australians during the Battle of the Somme Wed, Aug 9, 1916 – Page 11 · The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) · Newspapers.comA German perspective on the Battle of the Somme from August 1916A German perspective on the Battle of the Somme from August 1916 Thu, Aug 10, 1916 – Page 5 · The Times (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comNewspaper gives description of the German defenses on the Somme battlefieldNewspaper gives description of the German defenses on the Somme battlefield Tue, Aug 15, 1916 – Page 21 · The Times (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comPictures of British troops during the Battle of the SommePictures of British troops during the Battle of the Somme Thu, Aug 17, 1916 – Page 1 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comDescription of British, French, and German artillery at the Battle of the SommeDescription of British, French, and German artillery at the Battle of the Somme Thu, Aug 17, 1916 – Page 1 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comOpinion: Opinion: "Battle of Somme Holds Little Reward; Doomed to Be Brilliant, but Not Decisive" Sun, Aug 27, 1916 – 14 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.comAustralian military doctor gives eye-witness account of the Battle of the Somme in a letterAustralian military doctor gives eye-witness account of the Battle of the Somme in a letter Wed, Sep 6, 1916 – Page 7 · The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) · Newspapers.comNewspaper article about Irish troops fighting at the Battle of the Somme from September 1916Newspaper article about Irish troops fighting at the Battle of the Somme from September 1916 Mon, Sep 11, 1916 – 6 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comPicture of the interior of Picture of the interior of "a heavy French trench mortar pet on the Somme front" Mon, Sep 18, 1916 – Page 1 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comAccount of New Zealanders at the Battle of the Somme from September 1916Account of New Zealanders at the Battle of the Somme from September 1916 Mon, Sep 25, 1916 – Page 9 · The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) · Newspapers.comPhoto of the British fighting Photo of the British fighting "for a German gun at High Wood on Somme" Fri, Sep 29, 1916 – Page 2 · The St. Louis Star and Times (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.comNews of soldier's death at the Battle of the Somme reaches his brother in KansasNews of soldier's death at the Battle of the Somme reaches his brother in Kansas Fri, Oct 6, 1916 – Page 8 · Fort Scott Daily Tribune and Fort Scott Daily Monitor (Fort Scott, Kansas) · Newspapers.comNewspaper account of French Canadians at the Battle of the Somme from October 1916Newspaper account of French Canadians at the Battle of the Somme from October 1916 Wed, Oct 11, 1916 – Page 7 · The Times (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comPicture of French soldiers observing effects of their artillery from armored trench at the SommePicture of French soldiers observing effects of their artillery from armored trench at the Somme Mon, Oct 16, 1916 – Page 2 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comImage and description of a World War I tank, introduced during the Somme OffensiveImage and description of a World War I tank, introduced during the Somme Offensive Tue, Oct 17, 1916 – 2 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.comPhoto of Canadian soldier who was killed during the Somme OffensivePhoto of Canadian soldier who was killed during the Somme Offensive Mon, Oct 30, 1916 – Page 8 · The Winnipeg Tribune (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) · Newspapers.comNewspaper photo of a French dirigible used for scouting in the Somme regionNewspaper photo of a French dirigible used for scouting in the Somme region Thu, Nov 2, 1916 – 5 · The Coats Courant (Coats, Kansas) · Newspapers.comInterview with American airmen working with the French during the Somme OffensiveInterview with American airmen working with the French during the Somme Offensive Tue, Nov 7, 1916 – Page 23 · The Times (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comAnalysis of the Allied position on the Western Front after the Battle of the SommeAnalysis of the Allied position on the Western Front after the Battle of the Somme Sun, Nov 12, 1916 – 8 · The Observer (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.comOpinion: Opinion: "The Cost of the Somme Battle" Fri, Dec 15, 1916 – Page 8 · Vancouver Daily World (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) · Newspapers.comBritish General Sir Douglas Haig reports on the Battle of the Somme; Portrays it as a British General Sir Douglas Haig reports on the Battle of the Somme; Portrays it as a "triumph" Sat, Dec 30, 1916 – 1 · The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) · Newspapers.com
"Battle of the Somme," Newspapers.com Topics (https://www.newspapers.com/topics/world-war1/battle-of-the-somme/ : accessed August 24, 2019)